WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- Heath Post sunk two free throws with 16 seconds left to lift the Springfield College Pride (7-0) over the Williams College Ephs (4-3) by a score of 76-75 on Saturday afternoon at Chandler Gym.
The Ephs scored on their first three possessions of the game, building a 9-2 lead 1:53 into the contest. Matt Karpowicz hit a layup while getting fouled, missed the free throw, then grabbed the rebound. He proceeded to hit another and-one — this time, he knocked down his try from the charity stripe.
Despite the Ephs' hot start, Heath Post kept the Pride level with the Ephs, converting on four of his first six baskets for nine early points. With 12:38 to play in the first, the Pride held a 20-14 lead, while shooting 4-8 from deep. Six straight points from Karpowicz would even the score at 20 with 9:18 left in the half.
Springfield caught fire and answered with a 9-0 run of their own, capped off by a Daryl Costa three-pointer. Coach App called his second timeout of the game with 4:45 left in the first and the Ephs trailing 31-25.
Jake Ross nailed a trey as the first half expired to give the Pride a 41-30 advantage, the first double-digit lead of the game. Six different players made threes for the Pride in the half, as they shot 50% from beyond the arc. Karpowicz (15) and Jones (9) combined for 24 of Williams' 30 points.
Two three-pointers from Cole Prowitt-Smith cut the Pride's lead to five to begin the second half, but the Pride went on a 12-4 run, prompting a Williams timeout with the score 55-42 and 14:18 remaining. After Springfield increased their lead as high as 15 points, Alex Stoddard hit a trey for the Ephs to cut the deficit to 10.
Elite playmaking all around from the Ephs narrowed the Springfield advantage to one, 65-64. Mickey Babek had six points in the run, including an and-one, energizing the Chandler crowd. The Pride took a timeout with 3:03 left, holding a 70-68 lead.
Of the late surge, App said, "We locked in more defensively. We talked about forcing them to take hard shots. They're going to go through stretches where the hard shots don't go in. They also go through stretches where [the hard shots] do go in, because they're really, really good. They missed a few, and we picked the pace up and hit some shots."
After a defensive stop, Prowitt-Smith gave the Ephs their first lead since 14-11 lead with a shot from downtown. The teams exchanged baskets, and Springfield led 74-73 with 1:05 left. Jones tipped in an offensive rebound for the Ephs, regaining a 75-74 lead for Williams with 26 seconds remaining.
The Pride took a one-point lead with 16 seconds to go following Post's two free throws. Williams was unable to hit a last second shot, and the Pride stayed undefeated.
Springfield had eight steals while turning the ball over just seven times; Williams forced just one takeaway and had 15 turnovers.
Despite the loss, Karpowicz had a career day for the Ephs, scoring 29 points on 13-18 shooting (his previous high was 19) and bringing in 20 rebounds. Said App, "That's what he's capable of. We feel there aren't many teams that have players that can guard and matchup with him. He keeps learning how to sustain that effort and play at the pace where he's best at."
Prowitt-Smith added 18 points on 5-7 shooting from long range.
Ross and Heath had 26 and 23 points respectively for the Pride.
"I'm proud of our group for fighting and putting us in position to win a game against a really good team with two tremendous offensive players. I'm proud of our effort and for sticking with it, and unfortunately we came up short," App said.
Williams resumes play on Sunday, December 29 at the Salem State Holiday Tournament.
"I think we have a really good basketball team with a lot of potential. Once we get healthy and settle into our roles even more, this first semester experience will help our group out. We're right there — two of our three losses, we had multiple shots to win the game — so that's the final step for a young group. I think they want to get there, so we'll get there."